Every time the Olympics is around the corner or completed, everyone says we are a country of one billion people, but we hardly win any medals. In contrast, small countries with a population of one million are winning more medals than us.
Here is my takeaway on what India needs to do to win more medals at the Olympics.
1) Quality coaching: We need quality coaches at every level (Grass-roots coaches-Intermediate coaches -high-performance coaches). We need coaches who can develop a passion for the sport, We need coaches who can teach the game based on the child’s personality, We need high-performance coaches who can take the game to the next level.
Coaching education has to be made mandatory to train an athlete at every level. Currently, in India, most of the coaches at the Grass-roots and Intermediate levels are not qualified. If the child learns the wrong thing in their technique, it becomes really difficult for a high-performance coach to change that as the child has practiced that skill for hours.
Also, the coaches should upgrade their skills continuously by attending conferences, just like doctors attend conferences regularly to learn new methods in their domain.
2) Infrastructure: We need infrastructure at every level to bring more kids into the game. We see many athletes coming from grassroots these days, and that is because of the improved infrastructure.
In most parts of India, the weather is extreme in the summer and rainy seasons. For our athletes to train for longer hours, it would be good to have indoor facilities. Indoor facilities also help in uninterrupted practice during the rainy season.
Also, it would be great to have a nutritionist, physio, psychologist, strength and conditioning coach in one place. Currently, the parent has to travel to different places to get these services. Having everything in one place will save a lot of time for the child and parent.
3) Sports Science: Sports Science is in its infancy in India compared to other countries. We need more qualified Sports nutritionists, physio’s, psychologists, fitness coaches, and video analysts to work with the athletes. The margins are minimal at the highest level, and having them in the team makes a big difference. All the experts have a common goal, to improve the performance of the athlete.
4) Tournaments: Most of the athletes come from lower-middle-class and middle-class families. To reach the top 10 or 50 or 100 in the world, they have to play many tournaments in different parts of the world. Due to financial constraints, they do not participate in many tournaments, and their ranking is not improved.
Respective sports associations should work with the government and plan on hosting many international tournaments in our country, which will help the sport grow and improve the ranking of the athletes.
Also, the corporates need to come forward to support the athletes as they are the country’s pride.
5) Schools: Most of the schools in India do not have playgrounds, due to which most of the talent is untapped. The schools have to give equal importance to sports and academics. They have to make sports a mandatory subject, just like math and science.
Also, the schools should support the child pursuing the sport as a career option by granting leaves during tournaments and helping the child cope with academics by taking extra classes. Without school support, it becomes difficult for the child to pursue his passion.
6) Knowledge: Sport is growing rapidly due to the emergency of various sports leagues like IPL(Indian Premier League), PKL(Pro Kabbadi League), PBL(Premier Badminton League), ISL (Indian Soccer League), UTT (Universal Table Tennis), PVL (Pro volleyball League), to name a few, and parents are increasingly interested in taking sport as a career option for their child compared to the previous generation.
However, research shows that 70 % of the kids drop out of the sport by 13. It’s mainly due to burnout, injuries, academic and parental pressure. Most parents do not have a sports background and make many costly mistakes along the journey, focusing on results wasting their time and money.
We need to conduct workshops for aspiring sports parents; books need to be written on sports parenting to help the parents understand the journey.
7) Talent Identification: Talent Identification has to be done at every level, and for that to happen, the coaches have to be qualified, and tournaments have to be conducted at the grassroots level regularly.
8) Former players: We need to use the services of former players in coaching, mentoring, guest lectures at various levels, so athletes do not have to make the same mistakes they have made and can learn from their experience.
9) Administrators: The policymakers and people in key positions in sports should be from the sports background. They understand the requirements of an athlete as they have been there and seen that. They make better decisions compared to a person who does not have a sports background.
Also, All the stakeholders and corporates have to work together to make India a Sporting nation.
10) Recognition: When an athlete win’s a medal, all the coaches who have worked with the athlete and the support team need to be recognized, and incentives need to be shared among them. This is not happening currently, and the junior coaches and support team have lost their motivation to train the athlete as all the credit is going to high-performance coaches.
We have come a long way from where athletes dream of participating in the Olympics to winning a medal. We Indian’s are smart and hard-working people. We need the resources and infrastructure to win more medals at the Olympics.
Jai Hind !!